Prinicpal profile - Justin Kasel
Justin Kasel is the principal of Pleasant Valley Middle School, a place he knows well. He attended the school as a student and grew up in the neighborhood.
“I went to Arkansas Avenue Elementary before it turned into Ortiz Elementary and my mom still lives down the street from Pleasant Valley,” Kasel said. “As a student I also went to Pleasant Valley Middle School and Heights High School.”
Kasel got his teaching degree from Wichita State University and did his student teaching at Marshall Middle School as part of the Professional Development Site program. It allowed him to take his teaching classes at Horace Mann one day a week and then work at Marshall for 15-20 hours partnered with a teacher.
He really wanted to coach middle school sports, so he ended up going to Goddard which was looking for someone who was certified in math and science and wanted to coach.
“My mom ran a daycare most of my childhood so there were lots of kids always around,” Kasel said. “I didn’t like it at the time, but I was learning how to work with kids without even knowing it. In high school, my summer job was at a rec center running kid groups and I always picked the older kids and I think that’s how I figured out I wanted to work with middle school kids.”
Kasel taught 8th grade math and science in Goddard for seven years but wanted to become an administrator. He was able to get a position with Wichita Public Schools as an assistant principal at Truesdell Middle School where he served for four years.
“I worked under Principal Jennifer Sinclair and she really pushed me and gave me lots of opportunities to help me become a principal,” Kasel said.
While he was at Truesdell, Kasel learned how to do walkthrough teacher assessments and collect data, which was the foundation of a lot of the work he does now.
Kasel became principal of Allison Traditional Magnet Middle School where he worked for two years.
“Allison was a good place to learn how to be a principal,” Kasel said.
During his time there, the school was awarded Standard of Excellence in all three grades in reading and math state assessments.
He always knew that he wanted to work in a Title 1 school after working at Truesdell, and had the opportunity to become principal at Hamilton Middle School.
Kasel worked at Hamilton for seven years, where he and the staff worked hard to advance student achievement in reading and math.
“I’ve learned a lot along the way,” Kasel said. “I can remember when the district really started introducing interventions in reading and math.
While at Hamilton, he created a new schedule which included an additional hour and a system of testing students to directly address issues in mastering math and reading.
“We did a tremendous amount of remediation and it made FastBridge scores go up dramatically,” Kasel said. “I had a fantastic staff who went to the ends of the Earth to help kids and do what needed to be done,” Kasel said.
Four years ago, Kasel became principal at Pleasant Valley Middle School. During his time at Pleasant Valley, the teachers, support staff and paras have improved state assessment scores in both math and reading more than any other secondary school.
“It’s been fun coming back to Pleasant Valley,” said Kasel. “We have created new traditions for students and staff, developed student incentive programs, and increased the number of extra-curricular activities available for students. We want our kids to work hard and perform at a high level academically, but we also want them to be able to reflect back on their middle school years at PVMS and have fond memories of their time here.